Everything You Need to Know About Bengkung Belly Binding (Abdominal Binding)

Bengkung Belly Binding

You’ve probably heard of Belly Binding or Abdominal Binding. 

But what is it exactly? Who is it for? Why do you need to do it? Is it safe? Is it beneficial? Why is it so popular? Where can I get one? How do I use one?

The practice of belly binding for postpartum originates from the Malay postpartum tradition. Bengkung belly binding, as the name suggests, uses bengkung to bind the belly. Bengkung is a clothing article that is used to wrap around the women’s body tightly after birth. Belly binding has many benefits from recovery and most importantly, slimming.  Let us share with you everything you need to know about bengkung belly binding, from its origins, how to use its safety precautions, and its myths and misconception.

Throughout history, women have used different forms of garments to modify their bodies to the desired shape and size. From corsets, tight lacing, and girdles to modern-day waist trainers and body shapers. It’s been popular from the time of Ancient Egypt to the Victorian era to today.

Why? Because it works!

Salwa Salim Bengkung Belly Bind

Salwa Salim Bengkung Belly Binding at Sibley Memorial Hospital, Washington D.C after her 3rd delivery.
July 2019

Hello there! My name is Salwa Salim, and welcome to my blog! I am the creator of Malay Midwifery Method where belly binding /abdominal binding is my area of expertise. If you’re here to learn about bengkung belly binding, you are in the right place!

Bengkung belly binding is more than just reshaping your body, flattening your tummy, and slimming down after birth. There are so much more health benefits for your postpartum recovery. For over a decade, my team and I have been helping tens and thousands of women from all over the world during their postpartum period. They heal better and slim down faster.

Despite how much the body shapers have evolved, there is one style that has remained unchanged and stood the test of time.. It is used today exactly as it was hundreds of years ago.. It’s the bengkung belly bind!

WHO
Needs Bengkung Belly Binding

Although bengkung belly bind is most popular among women who have given birth, it is not meant to be used during postpartum only. Any woman who has gone through pregnancy for at least 4 months can benefit greatly benefit from bengkung belly binding. So it doesn’t matter if you have given birth through C-Section, had a vaginal delivery, or undergone a miscarriage, you can use the bengkung belly bind.

WHEN
You Need Bengkung Belly Binding

I recommend using the bengkung belly bind daily for the first ~6 weeks after birth or up to 100th day postpartum if you wish to see drastic slimming results. If there are no postpartum complications, the best practice to bengkung belly bind is 4-7 days after vaginal delivery or at least 3-4 weeks after C-Section, provided your external wound has healed and is no longer sensitive to touch.

WHY
You Need Bengkung Belly Binding

Belly binding during postpartum and post-miscarriage is a crucial step in the Malay postpartum tradition. It not only helps with recovery but, most importantly, restores the body to its pre-pregnancy shape, size, and figure. There are many health benefits from womb cleansing, vaginal tightening, reducing postpartum cramps, improving posture and breastfeeding, and many more.

Brief History of
Bengkung Belly Binding

Bengkung belly binding originates from the traditional postpartum care of the Malay people. Malay people, orang Melayu, are an Austronesian ethnic group native to the tip of Southeast Asia. Back in the day, the Malay Archipelago stretches from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines through Borneo, East Timor, and Papua New Guinea. In today’s map, the region with native Malays can be found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Southern Thailand, the Philippines, Cocos Island, and Brunei. You can also find ethnic Malays all the way from East Timor to Sri Lanka to Madagascar.  (Read the History of Malay)

Malay Bengkung Belly Binding

Map of Malay World by J. Hondius Circa 1606

However, when discussing the subject of my Malay Midwifery Method particularly on bengkung belly binding in my work, I am referring to the Malays of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Southern Thailand. This is because we all considered serumpun,  come from the same roots, with the same heritage, lineage, customs, and traditions. With political changes, country borders are drawn, separating us into different national identities. Despite how part of our cultures, language, and traditions may naturally take their own course, our roots remain the same and unchanged.

Benefits
of Abdominal Binding

There are so many benefits of using the bengkung belly binding that I am able to write a book about it. Here I have highlighted the main benefits and its summary. In the time to come, I will write a dedicated blog post for each of the benefits below.

Flatten Tummy

  • Abdominal organs that are displaced during pregnancy settle loosely outside the abdominal cavity (causing the tummy pouch) due to excess skin and empty space
  • Bengkung ‘push’ the organs back into the abdomen during the recovery
  • The abdomen will be flattened since organs are not hanging out into the tummy pouch

Heal Diastasis Recti

  • Abdominal muscles that are separated during pregnancy can continue to be open
  • Bengkung provides a gentle compression to ‘push’ the 2 sides of the muscles back
  • Allows the muscles to ‘close’ and heal as long as you’re using the bengkung

Reshape Body

  • Hormones relaxin causes the hips and pelvis to widen for childbirth
  • Relaxin is still present in the body a few weeks after birth
  • Bengkung belly binding can ‘close’ the hips, pelvis, and ribs if used while the relaxin is causing the  joints to be ‘soft’

Positive Body Image

  • Like wearing a corset, belly binding gives an immediate slimming effect
  • This gives a positive psychological slimming effect
  • It’s common for postpartum women to have a poor  self-image and belly binding can boost confidence

Reduce Postpartum Symptoms and Complications

  • Reduce postpartum abdominal cramps
  • Reduces postpartum complications
  • Reduces postpartum depression

Pelvic Support

  • The lifting effect of the bengkung belly bind relieves pressure off the pelvic floor
  • Relieve in pressure allows the pelvic floor to heal faster
  • This allows the pelvic floor to strengthen and recuperate

Womb Support

  • The ‘lifting effect’ of bengkung can treat and prevent stage 1 womb prolapse
  • Reposition the womb to its original location
  • Promotes expulsion of lochia and leftover pregnancy blood and tissue

Bladder Support

  • The ‘lifting effect’ prevents the womb from resting on the bladder
  • This relieves pressure off the bladder to improve stress incontinence
  • Prevent and treat mild bladder prolapse

Improve Posture

  • Bengkung belly bind act as external support for the back and core muscles
  • Provides sturdy support and takes the pressure off the back
  • Helps to straighten back and forces an upright posture

Breastfeeding

  • New mothers tend to adopt bad posture while breastfeeding causing a slouch
  • Bad posture leads to body aches
  • Postpartum belly binding  forces the body to be in an upright position

Different Types of
Bengkung Belly Binding

Traditionally there are different types of bengkung belly bind. The different types of bengkung belly bind have variations in the type of fabric, lengths, and even the tying techniques. Many people may only know of bengkung as just a particular style/ technique when in reality there are different variations.

Below are the 2 main categories of bengkung belly bind.

Classic Bengkung Belly Bind

Traditional Bengkung Barut Belly Bind

Traditional Bengkung Belly Bind

Classic Long Bengkung Belly Bind

Classic ‘Long’ Bengkung

In my observation, the most popular type of bengkung in the U.S. is the Classic ‘Long’ Bengkung. This bengkung style consists of a long piece of fabric between 6 yards to 15 yards in length with an 8 to 10 inch width. This type of abdominal binding is the easiest to make yourself and can fit any body size and shape. It can be put on very very tight, but it’s not easy to put on or handle, especially if you don’t have someone to help you.

Unknown to many, there are actually many ways to put on the Classic ‘Long’ Bengkung. It seems the most popular way of using the bengkung belly bind outside of the Malay world is the bengkung ikat. However, there are many different techniques, each with its own pros and cons. It depends on the type of fabric, the length of the fabric, and whether you have someone to help. The other techniques can be tighter, simpler, and even more comfortable. You can read more details about them in this blog post.

Traditional Bengkung

There is another type of bengkung belly bind in the Malay tradition that is just as effective but is not as known outside of the Malay world maybe because it is not easy to make one yourself, and you have no easy access to buy it.

This classic type of bengkung barut is best for women who have little help, little time, or simply little patience. While the traditional long bengkung is tighter, it is not as easy to put on. This bengkung barut is easy to handle and very fast to put on. For women who prefer the convenience and hassle-free, or worry they may not be able to keep up with belly binding every day, I would recommend this particular type of postpartum abdominal binding instead.

Bengkung Barut Abdominal Binding

Bengkung Abdominal Binding

Which Type of
Bengkung Abdominal Binding
is Best For Me

TRADITIONAL BENGKUNGCLASSIC LONG BENGKUNG
PROS

+ Very convenient to use
+ Very easy to put it on yourself
+ Fast to put on and take off
+ Easy to handle and wash
+ No rolling
+ Less claustrophobic
+ More comfortable

PROS

+ Cheaper
+ One size fit all body type, shape and sizes
+ Can be put on extra tightly for body shaping

CONS

– Has different sizes

CONS

– Less convenient to use
– Best done by a trained practitioner
– Requires patience and skill to put it on
– Takes more time to put on
– More hassle to handle and wash
– Can roll and bunch if not put on correctly

BEST FOR

+ Busy moms
+ You have limited time
+ You have no one to help you put it on
+ Prefers fast and convenient method
+ Wants comforts and easy of use
+ Don’t want to give up half way

BEST FOR

+ Have someone to help you
+ Able to engage a practitioner
+ Have the time and patience to adjust and readjust
+ Mom who can restrict movements
+ Committed to have the best slimming effect
+ Have someone to help you / engaging a practitioner
+ Have a lot of time/ patience

· SHOP NOW ·

BENGKUNG BELLY BINDING
VS
BODY SHAPER

How and why is bengkung belly binding better than any modern-day body shaper? The basis of any body shapers in the market out there is simply “binding the body”. Regardless of any new fancy material used in the body shaper or additional clothing fasteners such as cinchers, velcros or hooks, the foundation of the belly binding does not change.

What is appealing about bengkung belly binding is the simplicity and effectiveness that it has been around for thousands of years unchanged. And our very own signature batik bengkung belly bind is unique. While traditional bengkung uses a plain weaved fabric, our bengkung belly bind fuses the Malay’s traditional batik to create beautiful bengkung pieces.

Here are more reasons why you’d love it more than any body shaper.

CUSTOMIZABLE

Your body is out of proportion immediately after birth. Regular body shaper is unable to accommodate to that much changes in your body. With Bengkung belly bind you can literally customize it to your body every single day.

CHEAP

Body shapers have limited capacity to accommodate bodily changes and you may need to buying new ones. With bengkung belly binding, you only need 1 and you can resuse it with different pregnancy and even pass it on to different people.

COMFORTABLE

Body shapers have hooks, cinchers and bones etc with many unnecessary features. All these features may cause more discofrot than provide support to your unproportionate body. Bengkung belly binding uses the most basic concept of belly binding using just fabric.

COVERAGE

Bengkung belly bind has focuses in reshaping the pelvis, hips and ribcage while flattening the abdomen. Body shapers with the same coverage usually comes in the underwear/shorts version, making it less convenient to go to the toilet.

How To Correctly Put on a
Bengkung Belly Binding

There are many viral videos of people teaching others how to put on the bengkung belly bind. However, I spotted many errors, misconceptions, inaccuracies, missing steps, and appropriation. In fact, many of them are not even pronouncing the word bengkung correctly. But I am grateful for their effort and desire to teach/share about it. Click here to learn How to Pronounce Bengkung – The Right Way.

Unfortunately, we have reached the end of the blog. If you would like to learn how to correctly put on the bengkung belly bind, you can click on the link below to find out more.

· More Articles on Belly Binding ·

Bengkung Belly Binding
Uterine Prolapse
Bengkung Belly Binding History
How to Pronounce Bengkung
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Ask a Questions

I hope you have learned something new about bengkung belly binding. If you have a comment or have any questions, I will be happy to personally answer any questions.

With Love & Light, 
Salwa Salim

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